Hymn to Autumn 

They call them the "dog days," and that they are — those soggy, heated August days which this year alternated with periodic monsoons to generate some variety in the local discomfort. We would count our blessings, but, prithee, just where were they to be found?

Surely not in the usual disappointing start to a season of Memphis Tiger football. We like Coach Justin Fuente's style and his way of focusing on the positive while being realistic about the negative, and we understand it's going to take some time to reinstate the winning ways around here after several recent dismal seasons.

But lookit: losses to UT-Martin and Arkansas State? If we are to play Cinderella, it would be nice to eke out a win over one of our wicked stepsisters in whatever tier — second? third? — we can be said to have found ourselves in the college-football stratosphere. Wasn't there a time when we would begin a season by knocking off somebody semi-substantial, like Ole Miss or Mississippi State? Quo vadis, Tiger Blue?

We enjoyed sitting in our air-conditioned TV rooms and watching the Olympics awhile back, and for those of us who are politically inclined, there were a few moments in the two conventions, just ended, that kept us going between installments of America's Got Talent. And who wasn't riveted by the televised finales of the two finals, women's and men's, of the U.S. Open tennis tournament? Even those non-tennis aficionados who might think 30-Love refers to some post-match action at a singles joint surely got some inspiration out of Williams-Azarenka and Murray-Djokovich.

The school year has started up all around us, and while that's usually an occasion for relief on the part of parents and even a sense of new beginnings for students themselves, things are more complicated now that the future of local education seems to depend not on what happens in a classroom but on events in federal court and in the halls of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Was that state senator Mark Norris and Barbara Prescott, chair of the Transition Planning Commission, which Norris' legislation of 2011 created, publicly disagreeing all over again about the meaning of the word "merger," or was that just another late-summer rerun? Will the now-suspended trial regarding school-merger issues being presided over by Judge Hardy Mays resume soon? And, when and if it does, will it make more sense than it did before being halted last week? Oh, for some certainty in the scheme of things!

To be sure, there are those among us who know what gives regarding this or that. There is U.S. senator Bob Corker, for example, who tells us, via a brand-new press release, that he has hope that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will "make clear the limits of what monetary policy can achieve" in a pronouncement from the chairman due this week. But Corker fears the worst, warning, "If Chairman Bernanke announces more quantitative easing on Thursday, he will only be exacerbating the problem."

Yep, "quantitative easing." Those are two words to affright the most timid among us. Two more such words: Terry Roland.

Fall, with its cooling breezes and restorative bite, couldn't be coming at a more auspicious time.


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